Two brothers from the North East have been jailed after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to import heroin at Newcastle Crown Court. Glen and Gary Wheatley co-owned a travel business, G&G Travel, based in Hetton Le Hole, North East. The brothers used a coach owned by the business to smuggle heroin into the UK by constructing a concealed compartment in one of the wheel arches.

The National Crime Agency has stated that the coach was stopped at Dover on its return from Belgium in 2011. The coach was carrying a number of tourists who had been on a visit to the country’s Christmas markets when it was stopped. Twelve kilograms of heroin (with an estimated value of £3 million) were found in the specialised compartment. Gary Wheatley, aged 51, was driving the coach when it was stopped. Glen Wheatley, aged 45, had travelled separately and, after realising that Gary had been arrested, went on the run. He was eventually arrested in Amsterdam following a high-speed car chase in July 2012.

Both brothers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to contravene prohibition on the importation of Class A drugs at Newcastle Crown Court. Both received an immediate custodial sentence; Glen was sentenced to twelve years, and Gary to six and a half years. G&G Travel is no longer in operation.

A number of authorities were involved in the arrest of both brothers and extradition of Glen including law enforcement agencies in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Mr David Norris of the NCA stated;

“The Wheatley brothers thought they could use their coach company as a front to smuggle heroin into the UK but they were wrong…We will continue to work with partners here and overseas to protect our borders and target drug traffickers.”

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